Under the gun: what online poker sites are doing about DDoS attacks

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As much as every business with a digital presence may feel like a constant target for distributed denial of service attacks, there are some industries that can legitimately label these attacks inevitabilities. Online gambling sites have found themselves saddled with this unfortunate distinction for years, routinely landing near the top of the most targeted industries. The house always wins? Not so much.

The influx of attacks, as well as the resultant downtime, has gotten so bad for some poker sites that they’ve had to come up with an innovative way of dealing with this issue. No, it isn’t better DDoS mitigation. (Although…) It’s compensation, and it’s something we’re probably going to be seeing a whole lot more of.

Distributed denial of essential and beloved services

DDoS attacks are designed to keep people from being able to use websites and online services, thus it makes too-perfect sense that the industries most often targeted tend to be ones that offer services that people either really need, or really like. According to distributed denial of service protection providers Imperva, the top five most targeted industries in the fourth quarter of 2017 were, in order, internet service providers, online gambling, IT and software services, online gaming, and cryptocurrency.

In order to succeed in all of the above-mentioned industries, DDoS attacks don’t even have to cause full-on downtime, they just have to slow performance enough that users become frustrated and give up on what they’re trying to accomplish. It’s hard to win a hand of poker online when you can’t get your bet placed in time. Combined with the single point of failure that is the centralized always-available platform providing the online backbone for most of the sites in those industries, these industries are simply too good a DDoS opportunity for cybercriminals to pass up. As a result, businesses in these industries can either invest in the best-distributed denial of service mitigation, or they can try something else.

Trying something else

It’s been a bad run for some of the big names in online poker, with PokerStars, PartyPoker and Americas Cardroom all suffering from recent spates of attacks. The PokerStars attacks were especially enraging to users, as many had big chip stacks in tournaments at times when the site went down. Though no one lost any money because of the attacks, the play was unable to resume and users who felt they were in a position to win money never got the opportunity and were left feeling cheated.

In addition to apologizing and refunding all-tournament buy-ins, PokerStars went the extra step and offered five days of free $100,000 freerolls to affected players with the chance to win a ticket into the World Championship of Online Poker – a ticket that would otherwise cost $5,200. This follows online gaming company Ubisoft awarding For Honor players a host of in-game freebies after a few days’ worths of DDoS attacks caused major frustration.

Offering compensation is assuredly going to catch on amongst businesses that can easily hand out free plays or other perks. Should it, though?

Keeping compensation from becoming the new normal

It’s commendable that companies are providing compensation to users affected by the DDoS downtime. Considering the biggest DDoS damages are associated with loss of user trust and loyalty, it’s also smart. What would be even better than compensation becoming yet another DDoS-related cost, however, would be to keep these attacks from causing even one second of downtime.

According to an article on www.paybyphonecasino.uk, for an industry like online gambling or any of the other top five targeted industries, this isn’t a simple thing. For these constant bullseyes, protecting against DDoS attacks requires cloud-based protection with leading processing power and a robust network of scrubbing servers that can handle huge amounts of legitimate and attack traffic all at once, as well as granular traffic analysis capabilities for quickly filtering malicious traffic and deep packet inspection for rooting out even the cleverest attacks. All of this with always-on deployment and the ability to exchange information – including scrubbing directives – in real time with a time to mitigation of under 10 seconds.

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